Summer is almost here, thankfully, after a long, harsh north country winter.
Whenever I hear people grumble about how theres nothing to do around here, I try to remind them that we are in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Those of us who grew up here take the natural beauty of our area for granted. When I graduated high school, I couldnt wait to leave Ogdensburg. I told myself I that once was out and was never coming back. The bright lights of the big city beckoned, where there was plenty to do 24 hours a day.
Ogdensburg was boring by the standards of an 18-year-old who was 10 feet tall, bullet-proof, and knew everything. I was somehow better than this place. I belonged where the action was.
I lived in a city for seven years and came back temporarily in 2000. Fourteen years later, here I am. And I dont regret coming back for an instant. It took leaving this place behind to figure out this is where I belong.
No matter how much I tried to look down on the place of my birth from my new and improved big-city digs, the St. Lawrence River was always on my mind. I missed the smell of the woods and the sound of the birds. I missed the quiet at night. I missed friendly people and the kindness of strangers.
Most of all, I missed all the time I spent outdoors in summer, fishing, hiking, camping or just hanging out in the back yard. I missed the Seaway Festival, the concerts in the park, the parades all around the north country just about every weekend in the summer, the heavenly smell of a community chicken barbecue and watching the ships as they make their way up and down the St. Lawrence Seaway. The sound of a passing ship at night always helps me sleep.
When you are tempted to groan about how we are in the middle of nowhere and theres nothing to do, I want you to stop and take a look around you.
Where we live is beautiful. Take in the scenery. Go for a walk and take a look at all the beauty around you. Take the kids for a bike ride or just go sit by the water and enjoy the breeze.
And regardless of what your brain has tried to convince you is true, there is plenty to do. When was the last time you checked out one of our local museums? The Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, the Gateway Museum in Morristown, the Depot Museum in Lisbon and any of the town museums in St. Lawrence County surely have something that will pique your interest. They are jam-packed with local history and artifacts. You might learn something about your home town you didnt know before.
Museums arent your thing? No problem. There are music festivals and concerts galore. The Madrid Bluegrass River Festival is three days of great music June 27-29 in a beautiful setting near the Grasse River. The Gateway Museum in Morristown will offer a concert series starting later this month. The Norwood Village Green Concert Series offers plenty of entertainment all summer long. Seaway Festival concerts in the park are not to be missed.
Concerts not your thing, either? No problem. If there is one thing St. Lawrence County does right, its our community festivals. And we have plenty of them all summer. The Dairy Princess Parade and festival in Canton will kick off the festival season next weekend, along with the Massena Heritage Festival. Food, games, vendors and fun for the whole family are on tap.
Later this month is the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Exhibition at the St. Lawrence Power and Equipment Museum in Madrid, where you get to see a full history of heavy equipment, along with wagon rides, and antique tractor pull, food, music and activities for kids. The following month we have the Potsdam Summer Festival, Ogdensburgs Founders Days and Seaway Festival and firemens field days in many communities. There is usually a Civil War Re-enactment weekend that month in Massena.
August is just as jam-packed, with the Gouverneur & St. Lawrence County Fair, Waddington Homecoming, and the Ogdensburg Beer, Wine, Crafts and Food festival.
And I havent even gotten close to listing all of the community events we can expect this summer.
Lets not forget about all the fishing tournaments, chicken barbecues, poker runs, pig roasts and community sports league competitions in between. If thats too much action for you and you want things to be a little more quiet, take a short drive to the Adirondack Park, find a trail head and see where it takes you. Climb a mountain. Watch some birds. Take some outdoor photos or paint a landscape. Enjoy nature.
Instead of convincing yourself that the grass is greener and better in some other far-away community, take advantage of the myriad opportunities for fun St. Lawrence County has to offer.
Summer is coming. Get outside and enjoy the place we call home.